Xavier Canal, the favorite baker of Barcelona’s smart set, is a great master of apple tarts. In this one, he fills a crumbly tart shell with pine nut and almond custard and tops it with diced apples briefly cooked in rosemary syrup. The rosemary accent is faint but intriguing; if you want to intensify the herbal flavor, add a little finely minced rosemary to the apples. Once you’ve made this version, Xavier suggests trying a saffron-infused pastry cream (see facing page). The tart can be prepared ahead and put together before serving.
- Yield: 1 9-INCH TART
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup plus 1⁄3 cup sugar
- ½ cup lightly toasted pine nuts
- ¼ cup lightly toasted slivered almonds
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- Rosemary-Scented Tart Shell
- 2 large fresh rosemary sprigs, twisted and smashed
- 4 medium-size Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into small dice
- Cocoa powder, for dusting the tart
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Place the eggs and ¼ cup of the sugar in a small bowl and whisk to mix.
- Place the pine nuts and almonds in a food processor and process until finely ground. Add the flour and ¼ cup sugar and pulse until well combined. Add 6 tablespoons (¾ stick) of the butter and pulse briefly until the mixture begins to form moist clumps.With the motor running, gradually add the egg mixture, processing just until all the ingredients are well combined.
- Scrape the almond mixture into the tart shell, spreading it evenly (you may have more than will fill the shell). Bake until the filling is set and the top is light golden, about 35 minutes. Transfer the tart to a rack to cool completely.
- Meanwhile, prepare the apples: Place the remaining ⅓ cup sugar, the rosemary, and ½ cup water in a microwave-safe dish and heat on high power for 2 minutes (microwaving releases rosemary flavor better than boiling). Let the rosemary syrup stand for 30 minutes, then strain it.
- Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the apples and cook, stirring, until they begin to release their juice, about 3 minutes. Add the rosemary syrup, cover the skillet, and cook until the apples soften, about 5 minutes. Uncover the skillet and cook, stirring gently a few times, until the apples are soft and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. The apples should be moist and intact, not mushy. Let cool completely.
- To assemble the tart, arrange the apples evenly in the tart shell. Using a sifter, lightly dust the top of the tart with cocoa powder and serve.